SOLD – 1965 Rolex Oysterdate Commissioned by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
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Presented in honest original condition, this extremely rare 34mm Rolex Oysterdate features its original black dial with a slight tropical patina and bears Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s signature in gilt Arabic script. The dial features its original gold batons hour markers and matching gold “dagger” hands and powered by its original manual wind Rolex calibre 1215 movement.
The case back is dated III.65 (third quarter of 1965) corresponding with the 1.2 million serial number in between the lugs. The watch is fitted with its original expandable riveted Oyster bracelet, ref. 6635 with ’57’ end links, with the clasp dated ‘2/65′ (2nd quarter of 1965). This is one of the very few Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah-commissioned examples known has now become a true collectors’ piece. Complimented by its provenance, extreme rarity and profound link to Kuwait, this timepiece would be an excellent addition to any collection.
The Rolex Oysterdate
Released in the mid-1950s, the Rolex Oysterdate followed on from the template that the iconic Datejust model had set out in 1945 when it was released to celebrate Rolex’ 40th anniversary. Housed in a 34mm case, the Oysterdate was 2mm smaller than the Datejust and catered to most of the popular aesthetic demands at the time. Sized like most watches on the market, the Oysterdate married the Datejust’s design with the Air-King model to create a halfway house between the two models. Smaller like an Air-King and functional like a Datejust, the Oysterdate hit all of the right notes and proved to be a rather popular model. Following on from its release and initial success, Rolex grew the collection by adding new material choices, bezel options and dial designs while also periodically improving the movement it used.
Today, the Rolex Oysterdate exists as a wonderful entry-level option for collectors seeking to dip their toes into the Genevan brand. But, like most watches, not all Rolex Oysterdates are born equal, and the example we have here speaks to that in abundance. One of just seven known pieces commissioned by Sheikh Mubarak Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Member of the House of Sabah, the ruling family of Kuwait and Kuwait’s first Minister for Education, this model is extremely rare and amongst the most desirable Rolex timepieces on the market.
Rolex Arab Special Commissions
Within the fairly eclectic world of watch collecting, there exist groups of timepieces that harbour additional desirability thanks to specific details that delineate them as unique. For example, the ‘flat four’ Submariner Kermit, Paul Newman Daytonas and so on are all examples of watches that feature something that makes them unique. In recent years, special order timepieces have begun to gain traction and become extremely desirable for the very same reason, with Arab special commissions becoming incredibly sought-after.
Made on special order for governments, government officials or prominent royals to mark important events, milestones or celebrate political relations, these timepieces were gifted to specific individuals and thus never available for public purchase. Since so few are available to buyers on the open market, these timepieces have become highly collectable. They are inherently rare, visually unique and often tied to important people, geopolitical events and so on. Over the last decade, the value of watches connected to Gulf royalty or bearing a logo of the armed forces or a national symbol have soared in value thanks to their rarity and provenance – the two of the most important aspects of watch collecting.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah and the Liberation of Kuwait
Remembered and celebrated for his significant contribution to the improvement of Kuwait, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah led an educational, cultural and enlightenment renaissance in Kuwait. Understanding and seeing the importance of education and culture for the present and future of Kuwait, he opened public libraries across the country, brought over the first antiquities excavation mission, opened the first National Museums and made arrangements for establishing Kuwait’s first university.
Before becoming Kuwait’s first Minister for Education, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah joined the Directorate of Public Security Force as a Lieutenant. Then, in 1954 he was appointed as the first deputy commander of the Kuwait Army. In 1960, he founded the Kuwait 25th Commando Brigade, which was the first designated principle Commando mission initiative of Kuwait before the forming of its first Government.
During Operation Vantage in 1961, a plan for Kuwait’s defence from Iraq, he and Colonel Saleh Mohammed Al-Sabah commanded the Kuwait 25th Commando Brigade and the Kuwait 6th Mechanized Brigade. Following the crisis, he and HM’s British Armed Forces drafted different strategies to protect Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion, including sealing Kuwait’s borders. He acted as commander of the newly formed Kuwait Armed Forces for two years. Later he was promoted to Major General and designated Kuwait’s first Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces in March 1963 following the end of Operation Vantage, which garnered Iraq’s recognition of Kuwait.
Other Known Examples
As mentioned, there are only seven pieces commissioned by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah, thus establishing the example we have here as an extremely rare timepiece. In 2016, a commissioned Oysterdate was auctioned by Phillip’s and achieved a sales result of HKD $106,250, exceeding HKD $60,000 – 90,000 estimate. This has turned into quite the bargain given how the market has gone in recent years, as demonstrated by another Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah commissioned piece, an Air-King, selling for CHF 18,750 in 2018 through Christie’s. Albeit these two models are not the same, there has been a clear increase in their value, in keeping with the market’s demand for Middle Eastern special commissions. With these previous published results, it makes this example extremely good value. Pieces like the example we have here will only experience further value appreciation as they become more sought-after and similar pieces being stored away in private collections.
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